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App Allows Radiology Diagnosis Via Tablet, Smartphone

FDA clearance of GE Centricity mobile app lets radiologists use smartphones and tablets to make diagnoses from remote locations or in the field.
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GE Healthcare received Food and Drug Adminstration 510 clearance for a mobile app that lets radiologists use their smartphones and tablets to diagnose patients remotely.

The Centricity Radiology Mobile Access 2.0 is the first mobile app with FDA clearance for primary diagnosis accessing select images and reports from the Centricity PACS, or picture archiving and communication system.

No patient data is stored on the mobile devices. Rather, images are rendered on Centricity PACS servers and streamed onto the mobile devices, allowing radiologists to see high-resolution CT and MRI exams and reports using their iPads or iPhones.

The application allows radiologists to magnify the medical images, view them in 3D, and rotate them, said Jeanine Banks, GE general manager of global marketing for specialty solutions.

[Clinicians have a growing number of mobile apps from which to choose. See 9 Mobile Health Apps Worth A Closer Look.]

The capability to not just view but read images for diagnostic purposes is a great productivity boost for radiologists, said Banks. The FDA clearance of the GE Centricity mobile application allows radiologists to use their smartphones and tablets to make diagnoses from remote locations or in the field rather than a PACS workstation, providing new opportunities for radiologists to get paid for their readings, said Banks.

"Many radiology organizations are faced with shrinking reimbursements but are faced with increasing demands," including decisions about participating in the HITECH Act's Meaningful Use programs, said Banks.

As for radiologists and meaningful use, a recent study of 216 radiologists by KLAS and the Radiological Society of North America found that fewer than 60% of surveyed radiologists either plan to or are considering qualifying for MU.

Of those, about 28% of radiologists are planning to qualify for incentive payments under the HITECH Act program and 27% are considering doing so. Only 6% of radiologists consider themselves "very familiar" with the program.

A big issue for radiologists is that not many of the criteria of Stage 1 MU involve the sort of information that radiologists typically collect about patients, said Banks. "For instance, radiologists don't typically ask about smoking or allergies," she said, referring to criteria that's more relevant to primary care and other clinicians eligible for participation in the MU program.

GE offers a radiology information system that's MU certified, as well as more-comprehensive EHR systems certified for MU that typically would be used by other types of eligible providers, such as primary care physicians.

Though MU program participation might be lukewarm among radiologists now, Banks said she expects that might change.

"We think Stage 2 will be more explicit in criteria for radiologists," she said.

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